Bobby Hull was supposed be thrown out of his house this month. Instead, thanks partly to Occupy Wall Street activists, he may get to stay.
Last week, Hull said, Bank of America offered him a mortgage modification that will allow him to stay in his Minneapolis home. Occupy Wall Street protesters, working with local community organizers, attracted national attention to the former Marine's foreclosure in December.
"I want to feel really happy and glad about all this, but the word that I put out about this is that I'm not doing this to save my house, I'm doing this to fix the system," Hull told HuffPost. "If they can modify this to help me, they can modify it for everyone else."
Hull said he is only one of millions of homeowners in foreclosure because of what he called bank "loansharking," and hoped more would see their mortgages renegotiated like his. His story was highlighted by Occupy protestors as part of Occupy Our Homes, an offshoot of the Occupy movement that focuses on the foreclosure crisis.
In August, Bank of America sold Hull's home at a foreclosure auction. Hull thought his redemption period -- a homeowner's last chance to reclaim his or her house after a foreclosure sale -- passed on Feb. 17. Three days later he received the modification offer. Jumana Bauwens, a Bank of America spokeswoman, confirmed to HuffPost that it had offered Hull a modification, but said the deal has not yet been finalized.
Hull, a 57-year-old plasterer, had fallen behind on his mortgage after a series of health problems hampered his ability to work in 2009. His previous efforts to win a mortgage mod were unsuccessful. He said he'd given up hope of keeping the house when Occupy protesters and local activists knocked on his door. Their involvement gave him a motivational boost.
Maybe the bank "forgot or overlooked the fact that I am a Marine," Hull said. "We don't quit and run."
Now Hull and a loose collection of neighbors and activists, including Occupy Homes MN and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, are turning their attention to another Minneapolis homeowner in need, Monique White. On Nov. 8, Occupy protestors started camping out in White's yard in North Minneapolis, demanding that her lenders renegotiate her mortgage. Her home had long since been foreclosed upon after she stopped making payments following a layoff.
After a couple months, the Occupy protesters left White's property. But they pledged to help her through a new chapter in her struggle to keep her home. On Friday she was served with court papers for an eviction hearing.
What Hull's story proves, said Anthony Newby, an organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, is that when banks are put under enough public pressure, the supposedly impossible can become possible.
"The most significant part of the story for me is that fact that this bank fixed this three days after the end of the redemption period," Newby said. "This sort of community action not only works, it's set a precedent for what's possible. It's raised the bar for what should be possible in this crisis."
"When banks are compelled by communities to do something, they can do whatever they want to do, and Bobby's proof of that," Newby said. Monique White, he said, is in "a very similar situation … We're demanding that the banks sit down with her in good faith, look at the fact that she has enough income to make the payment, and keep her in her home."
Via HuffPost Miami:
When an Occupy Miami member offered evicted protestors vacant apartments in a building he owns in Downtown Miami's Overtown neighborhood, it seemed like the perfect solution: the 'Peace City' space would provide headquarters for the movement and shelter a small faction of the group's most vulnerable members. But it hasn't gone well. Other tenants say the building has become a cesspool of drug use and violence while non-resident Occupy Miami members are trying to distance themselves from the 'radicals' -- all while the two factions are wrestling for control over Occupy Miami's social media sites and future plans.
The feud between the Overtown occupiers and more mainstream members has only gotten worse. The two factions are now battling for control of Occupy Miami's social media sites. The movement's main Twitter account recently announced it had been "hijacked by a small, non-consensus group of radical members." The Occupy Miami Facebook page was also temporarily hacked by someone inside Peace City. Meanwhile, the Overtown occupation is slowly driving away more moderate members.
"This is a black eye on the Occupy movement," says Shannon Reaze, an Overtown community organizer and Occupy Miami supporter who is now helping tenants move out of Paz's building. "The violence and drugs going on here are way outside of what I thought Occupy stood for. This place is destabilized."
...The supposedly hard-core activists here spend their days drinking and getting high. And as Peace City devolves into lawlessness, the most committed occupiers are leaving. Local landowners and politicians want the place shut down, while cops are suspicious. Yet as long as Paz wants the protesters around, nothing short of a demolition order can keep them out.
Via HuffPost DC:
WASHINGTON -- Occupy DC has a new lawsuit involving tents on its hands. But it doesn't involve temporary structures in McPherson Square.
Two protesters arrested during a February action outside Merrill Lynch's offices on 15th Street NW near McPherson Square have filed suit against the Metropolitan Police Department, Legal Times reports. (Read the complaint here.)
The plaintiffs, Samuel Dukore and Kelly Canavan, were part of a "targeted occupation" of Merrill Lynch on Feb. 13 where protesters were raising awareness about Merrill Lynch's reportedly close ties with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa, for his part, claims that the reports of these close ties are "wildly inaccurate."
Full story here.
OWS reports via its website:
After the brutal attack on the attempted re-occupation of Liberty Square by NYPD on the 6-month anniversary of #OWS, a number of Occupiers have relocated their base of occupation to Union Square in midtown Manhattan, a point of convergence for several #OWS protests over the past 6 months.
According to reports on the ground, several dozen people slept in the park after the illegal and violent raid on Liberty Square. Over 70 people remain, now on Day 3. Although tents and tables are still banned, Occupiers have brought blankets and sleeping gear. Many are calling it ¨the new Occupation.¨ In addition to holding General Assemblies, Union Square Occupiers are providing vital jail support for those arrested on #M17 as they are released from NYPD custody. So far, the NYPD has made no attempt to remove Occupiers or prevent them from sleeping in the park.
Occupy Long Beach is defending the mother's home. For more information, click here.
Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement.
A video uploaded to Youtube late Saturday night purports to show the attack. Two women can be heard commenting, “There’s Cecily,” then there is confusion as the police clearly perform a violent take-down on someone in the crowd.
According to Jeff Sharlet’s November, 2011 article about the Occupy Movement, this may be Ms. McMillan’s second violent encounter with police.
To read the full story, go here.
Cops caught on video about 10 seconds in taking down the woman who had the apparent seizure:
Watch video from inside Zuccotti Park as police moved in late last night:
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The paper reports from last night's chaos at Zuccotti Park:
At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.
By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.
Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.
To read the full story, go here.
|@ Greg_Palast : Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!|
|@ macfathom : Doubling east on Barclay, and now the ragged front of the march is at City Hall. #OWS|
|@ LuddoftheFuture : girl in the street having a seizure and the cops have her in handcuffs. can this get any worse (live at http://t.co/4pLyy3gP)|
Activists cry out for paramedics. The woman is limp on the ground. "Come on you violent bastards where's the paramedics?"
|@ jeffrae : March is heading north up broadway #ows #occupywallstreet|
|@ macfathom : Dozens of arrests, many cuffed and sitting on broadway waiting for their ride to jail. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : Police are barricading the park. It's cleared. I witnessed countless violent arrests. No way to estimate numbers.|
Cops pulling apart human chains. There are shouts for mic checks. Now, chants start forming. "The NYPD are sweeping through," says Tim on the live stream.
|@ ANIMALNewYork : NYPD just made an announcement that Brookfield has to "clean the park" and Liberty Plaza is officially "closed."|
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : Bagpipers just started marching into the park bringing the party mood with them, NYPD arrested one of them, and things got real heated. #OWS|
|@ JackieHRye : NYPD just "destroyed" the tent in Zuccotti Park, Occupiers call for its re-building. Marching band also going through the park. #OWS|
|@ RDevro : The tent in the middle of the park continues to fill with people planning to stay the night. Lots of energy here.|
Activists ask for more room as the tent is growing, expanding.
"It looks like a floating tent." -- as Tim on his live stream.
|@ OccupyWallStNYC : .@justawall is leading us in a song! "Hit the road, banks! And don't ya come back no more no more no more no more!" #OWS|
Activists have assembled make-shift, cardboard sleeping areas inside Zuccotti Park. The cardboard is joined by a large green tarp.